Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge

Franklin, Tennessee

Concrete Double Arch Bridge


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Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge

The Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge is a concrete double arch bridge that carries the Natchez Trace Parkway over Route 96 west of Franklin, Tennessee. Designed by Figg Engineering Group, the bridge was built by PCL Civil Constructors, Inc., for a cost of $11.3 million. The bridge was completed in October, 1993, and officially opened in March, 1994.

The longest arch span is symmetrical while the smaller arch span is not. This is due to the slope of the valley walls at the southern end of the bridge. The Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge is also unique in that it does not use vertical columns from the arch to the bridge deck. The weight of the bridge deck is centralized at the top of each arch.

The Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge was the frist segmentally constructed arch in the United States. It also was the first time in the U.S. that a precast, post tensioned method was used to construct an arch. It contains 122 hollow box arch segments. Each segment, precast in Franklin, TN, 8 miles away weighed 26 and 41 metric tons apiece. The bridge contains 196 deck segments. Each segment is a precast post-tensioned trapezoidal box girder approximately 2.6 meters long.

The bridge was built using a balanced cantilever method. Each arch was supported during construction by cables from the piers and the valley walls. This process was used instead of conventional shoring to minimze environmental damage to the valley below.

Looking north at bridge

Underside of southern end of bridge

Arches meet pier

Looking up at arch

Southern end of bridge

Bridge Facts

  • 1,648 feet in total length
  • 155 feet above valley and Route 96
  • 177.4 meters in length for longest arch span
  • 140.8 meters in length for shorter arch span
  • 11.3 meters in width
  • two lanes wide--one lane each direction
  • 122 arch segments--precast hollow box segments about 10 feet long
  • 196 deck segments--precast post-tensioned trapezoidal box girder segments about 8 to 9 feet in length
  • Foundation and piers cast in place
  • Maintained by the National Park Service



Top of southern arch

Southern bridge abutment

Southern bridge abutment

Bridge approach connection to abutment

Southern end of bridge

Bridge deck

Top of southern pier

Looking north under bridge

Each bridge deck segment was connected in place

Bridge curves

Northern pier

Southern end of bridge

Largest northern arch

Looking south

Top of northern arch

Arch butts into northern pier

Base of northern pier

Both arches meet at bottom of central pier

Looking south

Looking up at top of northern arch

Looking south at double concrete arches

Top of southern arch

Top of northern pier

Double arches meet concrete abutment at bottom of central pier

Southern part of bridge

Top of central pier

Southern section of bridge

All photos by Brenda Campbell
Teacher at Centerville High School, Centerville, Indiana.